NY Judge bans cameras, cell phones during Trump indictment

The New York Judge Juan Merchan ruled late Monday night that cameras, cell phones, and laptops will be banned from the courtroom, for the arraignment Tuesday of former President Donald Trump. 

Mr. Trump traveled to New York City for his historic booking and arraignment on hush money charges related to allegations of sexual encounters.

The charges laid out in the indictment against Trump are set to be made public during the arraignment at 2:15 p.m. EST Tuesday. Several reports suggest he could face as many as 30 counts tied to fraud and campaign finance violations.

As Donald Trump prepares to fight criminal charges, he has hired a new attorney Todd Blanche who specializes in white collar crimes to join his legal team. 

"Legally, the fact that he's a former president doesn't have any relevance. We're not talking about something he did while he was president," said Dan Farber, a UC Berkeley Law Professor and author of Contested Ground: How to Understand the Limits on Presidential Power.

Farber says, however, that Mr. Trump's high-profile as a former President does present challenges to the judge and both legal teams. 

"The fact that he's so high-profile makes things difficult in some ways. They're going to have to work hard to find jurors who are unbiased. And that's going to be true at any high profile case, but there really can't be many people in America who have not heard of him…and most of those people have strong opinions. So jury selection is going to be potentially a lengthy process," said Farber.

Some legal experts said a gag order could be put on the case preventing the former president and his attorneys from commenting.

 "There's going to be concern about biasing the jury or potentially influencing witnesses through public statements," said Farber.

"The judge would have the absolute power to say that’s off limits and you could be in contempt of court if you violate that order," said David Levine, professor at UC College of the Law San Francisco. "That alone might lead to a revocation of the ability to be out on bail or a short jail sentence, a fine."

Levine said other restrictions could be imposed on Trump including being forced to give up his passport or informing prosecutors of his travel plans.

Former Trump associate Michael Cohen has said Mr. Trump secretly repaid him for giving hush money to adult film  star Stormy Daniels after she threatened to go public with an affair. Mr. Trump denied the affair during the 2016 presidential campaign. 

"I think the biggest issue is going to be probably about intent. Intended to falsify documents? Did he intend to mislead?" said Farber.

Some Trump loyalists, including Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green, plan to rally across from the courthouse Tuesday. 

Trump remains a political candidate and is also protected by the first amendment allowing free speech.

"You can’t very well limit Mr. Trump from talking about the American justice system or issues facing the nation," said Levine.

The overarching political implications are immense, especially with other Republicans jumping into the presidential primary race.

Asa Hutchinson, who recently completed two terms as Arkansas governor said Sunday he will seek the Republican nomination, positioning himself as an alternative to Trump.

But many political experts still say Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will continue to lead among other GOP hopefuls.

"Governor DeSantis will still remain the favorite. But as the favorite he will become the whipping post for Donald Trump," said Sonoma State University Political Science Professor David McCuan. "That is going to be very costly and Republicans are going to have to look at this with some kind of critical eye if they want to win back the White House."

The strategy for some Republicans has been to slam Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. A number of Trump allies in the House have threatened to cut federal funding to his office.

From a historical perspective, UC Berkeley Professor Emeritus David Hollinger said the politicization of the judicial system sets a dangerous precedent.

"What’s going on is an effort to undermine basic American institutions," he said. "Before we even know what the indictment says we have these leading Republicans attacking the district attorney for weaponizing, they say, the Justice Department."

In the short-term, the Trump Campaign has scored a political edge and seen a spike in fundraising dollars.

But experts say it may be a tough sell to independent voters, especially with potentially other indictments forthcoming.

"Indictments are not good for your legacy," McCuan said. "Indictments are not good for politics of the Republican Party and that is something to pay attention to even though we are a year plus outs from the national presidential election of 2024."

Brooks Jarosz is a reporter for KTVU. Email him at  brooks.jarosz@fox.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter @BrooksKTVU